Like every language (romantic and otherwise) French has its little quirks. Every word has an associated gender. I wasn't too perturbed by this as I became accustomed to 'genders' when I learnt Hindi. Like all controversial gender issues, it is more than challenging to construct a sentence without the kind of offence that can be kept out of the courts. Besides, gender-oriented languages seldom have a logical reason behind classifying words as either masculine or feminine. Our astute middle school Hindi teacher told us to 'say what sounds right'. It hasn't been that easy with French.
In French every masculine word is prefixed with 'le' and every feminine term with 'la'. For example; 'la femme' means 'woman' or 'the woman' and 'le homme' means 'man' or 'the man'. Also, un and une are used as prefixes with masculine and feminine terms respectively. For example ; 'une femme' is 'a woman' or 'one woman' and 'un homme' is 'a man' or 'one man'. Sounds simple doesn't it? Wait for the next bit.
In French even inanimate objects have an associated gender. Even streets, books, wine etc. have genders. Here are a few examples
- 'une production' - a production (feminine)
- 'un film' - a film(masculine)
- le livre - book/the book (masculine)
- la tour eiffel- the eiffel tower(feminine)
Take a load of this! How am I expected to keep a straight face through the perils of translation?
ps: In French 'La cuisine' means 'the kitchen'(feminine) and 'Le livre' means 'the book'(masculine). Interesting....